CHIEFS of Andover’s newest political party have denied a split, despite two of its members registering as a separate group at a borough council meeting this week.

At Monday’s annual meeting of Test Valley Borough Council, two Andover Alliance councillors — David Coole, party deputy leader, and Christopher Ecclestone — registered as a notified group within the authority.

The five other councillors elected under the Andover Alliance banner, including leader Richard Rowles, opted to remain as a ‘non-notified’ group.

However all seven of the councillors remain under Andover Alliance membership, with Cllr Coole putting the registration of two groups on Monday down to “procedural hiccups” which are “to be expected from a new party and from people completely new to politics”.

The move came after Cllrs Coole and Ecclestone did not attend a party meeting on Sunday.

However, a statement from the party’s newly-appointed executive committee chair, Ed Treadwell, said: “As we, Cllr Coole, Cllr Rowles and party chair Ed Treadwell, sit together jointly working on our policy strategy, we are puzzled that the press [referring to a story on Love Andover] is reporting a ‘split’ in the Andover Alliance.

“There is most definitely not.

“The Andover Alliance is a broad church. We have all agreed on our manifesto but, for issues beyond its remit, we agree councillors can act in any way that that they feel best serves the people of Andover. Councillors will take very different views on some matters just as the public do.

“That will continue — and if every time Alliance councillors vote differently, as they will, then headlines of ‘Alliance split’ will become rather tiring.

“We are local people wanting to represent local people and serve them in the best way we can.

“We ask for the support and understanding of the media in this new way of doing politics.”

Cllr Coole also commented on the reports of a split, reiterating that the difference of opinion at Monday’s meeting was due to inexperience.

He said: “The Andover Alliance is a new party and many of the elected councillors are completely new to politics.

“We have made no secret of the fact that many of our councillors lack the political understanding that more seasoned councillors have. Yes, some procedural hiccups have been made and these are to be expected from a new party and from people completely new to politics.

“We see the lack of political knowledge in councillors as refreshing and an opportunity, as it enables the Andover Alliance to see things differently and to seek out opportunities, where the more seasoned councillors only see brick walls.

“The Andover Alliance Councillors are quick learners and minor hiccups will not deter us from our determination and commitment to delivering our manifesto.”

Cllr Coole also took aim at the circumstances surrounding the meeting of party members which he did not attend on Sunday.

He added: “The hastily-arranged meeting by the current party leader that was held on Sunday, did not comply with the Andover Alliance constitution and broke far too many party rules.

“Consequently, the Party Monitoring Officer has been forced to declare the meeting null and void. The Chair of the Andover Alliance Party Executive Committee is now investigating why the Party Leader has acted in this manner.”